Cookson Family Papers

Scope and Content

A small and very scrappy accumulation of deeds and papers of a branch of the Cookson family directly descended from Isaac Cookson (ca. 1678/79-1743), merchant, of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Despite their paucity, the papers illustrate some of the Cooksons' wide-ranging industrial and business activities on Tyneside, in particular their interests in glass and bottle-works, iron and steel foundries, coal, lead, copper, zinc, antimonyand other chemical works, and banking, as well as including a little personal material.

The collection has been arranged in the following sections:

  • I/1-18 and II/19-34: Deeds and associated documents, 1722-1786 and 1756-1876. The subjects of these documents include: (I/1-14, 16, 18) glass-works and salt pans in SouthShields, Co. Durham, 1722-1786; (I/15) a glass-works at the Close Gate in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1770; (I/17-18) brick and tile-making in Westoe, Co. Durham, 1778-1786; (II/19-22) a banking and exchange business in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1756-1786;(II/23-29) shares in a privateer called the Heart of Oak (formerly the Britannia employed in the Greenland Whale fishery), 1778-1779; (II/30) the Mickley Coal Company, 1853; (II/31-33)inventions relating to lead-manufacturing, 1874-1876; (II/34) the apprenticeship of John James Warden with Messrs. Cookson and Company of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1867.
  • III/1-57 Correspondence, papers and pamphlets, 1811- ca.1930s. As well as a little family material these items include: (III/1-26) material concerning the holdings of William Cuthbert in Cookson and Company, lead manufacturers, 1868-1876;(III/27-29) three letters concerning the Alkali Bill, 1904; (III/41-47) papers and pamphlets relating to Cookson industries on Tyneside, 19th-20th centuries; (III/48) folder containing typescript history by John James Warden, Cookson manager, ofCookson industries in the North-East, 18th-20th centuries, with a bibliography ([?ca.1927], 64ff.); (III/49-51) manuscript Cookson pedigrees; (III/53) photographs of three banknotes, 1758/9, 1762 and 1821; (III/56-57) printed books of reference tothe 25 inch to one mile Ordnance Survey plans of the parishes of All Saints, Newcastle upon Tyne and St. Andrew, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1861.
  • IV/1-4 Framed printed notices etc., 1793-1914. These include: (IV/1-5) notices relating to banking confidence and to currency and banknotes, 1793-1914; (IV/6-7) two fire insurance policies, 1801 and 1830; (IV/8) an address from workmen inSouth Shields, Co. Durham, supporting the Cookson works against complaints of smoke-pollution, 1839; (IV/9) an illuminated address presented to Norman Charles Cookson on his marriage, 1873.

Administrative / Biographical History

See under Scope and content.


See above under Scope and content. Within each section items are arranged chronologically.

Access Information

Items III/30-39 are closed until 2037. Other items are open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Items I/1-33 were apparently deposited by Clive Cookson of Netherwitton, Northumberland (born 1879) with the Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic of the University of Durham (from 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections departmentof Durham University Library) soon after the foundation of that department in 1948. This deposit predated the systematic keeping of accession records by the department, but it is referred to by Professor Edward Hughes of the University of Durham onp. viii of the preface, dated 18 December 1950, to his North Country Life in the Eighteenth Century The North East 1700-1750 (OUP 1952, reprinted 1969).

Further deposits were made by Mr. Cookson on 7 July 1954 (item I/34), 4 May 1960 (item IV/4) and 25 May 1961 (items IV/1-3, 5-9). With the exception of item IV/4 all of these items were received through Professor Hughes.

A further deposit made by Professor Hughes on 5 November 1963 is described as a file of Letters and papers concerning Messrs. Cooksons, 19th-20th centuries. This almost certainly included item III/48 and possiblyalso the documents now listed as items III/1-47, 49-57.

Other Finding Aids

Online catalogue at online catalogue

Separated Material

Northumberland Record Office: Cookson (Meldon) MSS.

Northumberland Record Office: Cookson (Minsteracres) MSS.

Tyne and Wear Archives Service: Associated Lead Manufacturers Records. This is a very large collection which includes some material on the Cooksons. Other items in the Tyne and Wear Archives Service which tie in particularly closely with theCookson Papers in DUL include:

Tyne and Wear Archives Service: microfiche copy of letter-book, 1738-1740, of John Cookson, glass manufacturer of Newcastle upon Tyne, the original of which had been purchased at auction in 1994 by a museum of glass in New York State, UnitedStates of America.

Tyne and Wear Archives Service: TWA 1512/5571, letter-book of John Cookson, glass merchant of Newcastle upon Tyne, 21 July 1747 - 12 June 1769.

Tyne and Wear Archives Service: TWA 1512/5572, sales journal of John Cookson, 3 December 1744 - 15 February 1747.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

It is likely that these papers were once part of a much larger collection, some of which might possibly remain either with descendants of the depositor or with other branches of the Cookson family. Some or all of the items in section III of thepapers might at one time have been kept with the archives of the Associated Lead Manufacturers, which are now deposited with the Tyne and Wear Archives Service.


Buckley, F., Glasshouses on the Tyne in the Eighteenth Century in Transactions of the Society of Glass Technology, vol. 10, 1926 (foran offprint of this see Cookson Papers III/43).  Hedley, W.P. and Hudleston, C.R., Cookson of Penrith, Cumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne (privately published, ca.1967).  Hodgson, G.B., The Borough of South Shields (1903).  Rowe, D., The History of the British Lead Manufacturing Industry (Croom Helm, 1983).  Thornborrow, E.L., The rise and fall of the glass industry in South Shields in South Shields Archaeological and Historical Society papers, vol. II, no. 4 (August 1968),11-25  Thornborrow, E.L., The salt industry of South Shields in South Shields Archaeological and Historical Society papers, vol III, no. 2 (1988), 16-31

Corporate Names